Raymer's Return Welcomed

I don't know if Cory Raymer will start. I don't even know what he has left as a player. I just know this: I'm glad he's back.

I liked watching his gut jiggle just a little bit as he hustled to the line in his familiar Raymer gait. I liked that he had his new fishing boat delivered to Redskins Park (it arrived late at night during one of the minicamps and only reporter Paul Woody was around; as Raymer said the next day: ''The poor bastard had to spend the night.'') And I like that Raymer laughed when I told him I expected to hear of a beer truck pulling up behind the boat truck.

I also liked how he used to joke around when he was hurt about spraining the fat on his body.

Raymer is just a good guy to have around. Always has been. We have something in common: a disdain for Michigan. So I'll gladly repeat what he said about Jon Jansen, ''He's still as ugly as ever, still a major pain in the ass. Nothing has changed. They taught him well, but he's from Michigan so he still sucks.''

But Raymer can be a help. My guess is that he'll end up as the starter with Lennie Friedman the reliable backup. Friedman is small, only weighing around 285 pounds, to take on fulltime duty all season.

Raymer, though, hasn't done much the past few years in San Diego, where injuries and benchings led to his eventual ouster. He was steady in Washington his first go-round. Not spectacular, but solid. Since he left, the Redskins haven't had anyone solid.

''I've been on both sides with starting and then being pushed aside and sitting on the bench,'' Raymer said. ''You learn a lot. The saying goes, 'What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.' That's what it does. But my goal is absolutely to be [back in the lineup]. I certainly didn't expect to come through the front doors and be the guy who is a starter right away. They got me to come here, now it's my job to show them I can still play.''

Raymer wouldn't have minded staying in San Diego. He liked playing for Marty Schottenheimer, saying he thought he could still win with the Chargers but was undone last year by some bad characters on the roster.

But Raymer is a country boy from Wisconsin. He's not Southern California. Still, he liked it.

''I never would have given it a chance until I got out there,'' Raymer said. ''I got thrown in jail from the fat police for walking around on the beach in my thong once in a while. As long as I could outrun them, everything was good. It's a whole different ballgame out there. I never wanted to leave here, but there are worse places to go than San Diego. I enjoyed every minute of it.''

But this is his NFL birthplace.

''I'm excited, I'm like a little kid again,'' Raymer said. ''I'm smiling ear to ear. I didn't want to leave, but that's the way this stuff happens. I've got a second chance.''

And I'm glad for that, too.


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